Monday, February 7, 2022

Pet Loss: Supporting A Teen on the Autism Spectrum through Grief

It is no coincidence that both birds and angels have wings.  ~ Anonymous

A reader writes: My 15 year-old autism spectrum disorder son and his cockatiel were inseparable. Every waking and sometimes sleeping minute his bird was on him or next to him. My son stepped out side yesterday with his cockatiel on his shoulder. His bird flew to the ground just a few feet away and before my son could even take a step a hawk swooped down, grabbed his cockatiel and flew off. With my son's ASD this bird as he put it was his motivation to get out of bed each day. We all are so devastated and concerned for him. I know this only happened yesterday and the shock and pain are fresh but what can we do to not only help him heal but all of us?

My response: I'm so sorry to learn of the traumatic loss of your son's beloved cockatiel, and I can only imagine how painful this must be for your entire family. 

I want to point you to some resources that I hope you will find helpful as you find your way through this challenging time. Bear in mind that you know your boy better than anyone, so you already have some idea of how he may respond ~ and I think the more you understand what reactions are normal in grief, the better prepared you will be in helping your son to manage his particular responses. 

You might begin by reading a bit about grief in general, and then specifically about how grief might affect a person with autism. See, for example, 

Tips for Helping Children and Adolescents in Grief  (and note the links to additional resources listed here)

I hope these resources help, and please know that I am thinking of you and your family, wishing you comfort and peace.  

Your feedback is welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question, or share a tip, a related article or a resource of your own in the Comments section below. If you’d like Grief Healing Blog updates delivered right to your inbox, you’re cordially invited to subscribe to our weekly Grief Healing NewsletterSign up here.

Image by Olga Kropman from Pixabay

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